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July 14, 2009

Ian Poulter


ALI BUCHAN: Memorable 2008, 2nd at Birkdale and exceptional Ryder Cup performance and a good start to 2009 so far. Do you come to Turnberry expecting to contend?
IAN POULTER: Yes. It's been a start to the year. Obviously last year was a great end. Finishing 2nd to Paddy was a huge finish, which put me in position to get to the Ryder Cup. And obviously performed exceptionally well, which I was very happy with. I've taken a bit of time off at the start of the year and have brought a form out which has been a good start for the year.
ALI BUCHAN: You've never been to Turnberry before.
IAN POULTER: No, I've never seen it. I turned up at 10:00 Sunday night and had a little look on 18th green; security guards came out, What are you doing, what are you doing, get off. It's okay, I'm playing. So that was my first look, and then I got escorted off in a wagon. So that was nice.
But the golf course is fabulous. I played nine holes yesterday, played the front nine with Darren, and then I snuck out there this morning at 7:00 on the 10th tee with no one about to play the back nine. So it was very nice, very impressed.

Q. Is that approach of coming in late and attacking it just like a lucky omen thing from Birkdale, or was there sort of a logic to it?
IAN POULTER: Not really. I think what has happened in the past where I haven't really had enough to time to go out there and play two or three practise rounds in the past. Obviously I had never played as an amateur on these golf courses. And it's something that I got used to doing, playing 18 or 27 or 36 holes the week of to get used to the golf course. It's what I got used to doing.
And I think I've spent a little bit more time back at the house working on the visuals of the golf course, the tee shots, which way the wind is going to be blowing in certain directions to try to work out where the prevailing wind is, what clubs I'd need to hit, whether it will be 2-iron or driver, do more homework off the golf course than on the golf course back at the house, where I need to hit it with certain winds.

Q. Fun question for you. You're probably the only English guy I've ever heard call it the British Open. I wonder if that causes conniptions to some people, and do they take deep breaths about that and pull out their hair?
IAN POULTER: I don't know. I did say it the other day, I got caught up on it, I suppose. So sorry, The Open Championship.

Q. Should it matter?
IAN POULTER: Not really. Does it really matter?

Q. With the history, it just seems --
IAN POULTER: Well, I'm sorry if I offend anybody with saying it or have said it. I won't say it again. I do apologise.

Q. Is there ever a danger -- you've obviously come into this event, in your words, buzzing, is there ever a danger of overconfidence coming into something over-buzzing if you see what I mean?
IAN POULTER: I've often gone out with too many expectations, and it not worked. I'm not going out there with any expectations apart from to try and execute every shot I need to on the golf course. I'm not going out there having the mindset on Thursday morning I have to win, I have to win, I have to win. I'm going out there to play a round of golf.
Yes, I do have expectations to try to go one better than I did last year, but I will be pacing myself from Thursday to try and get in position to strike on Sunday afternoon.

Q. Could you give us some impressions of just what you thought of the golf course and how you plan to attack it, what you think of the bunkers and so on?
IAN POULTER: I think it's a very difficult golf course from the tee. People seem to think it's very fair. The fairways are quite wide here. They are quite flat providing you're going to hit the middle of them.
The rough is very thick, either side. On certain holes like 12, it's a long par-4; you have to hit driver off that tee to give you any type of chance. There's probably -- there's a lot of par-4s out there where I have seen 2-iron to stay short of all the bunkers and leave myself a slightly longer second shot. Whether anybody else sees the golf course playing the same way, I don't know. But that's what I've seen in the last 18 holes.
You're going to have a lot of 30-, 40-footers, given that you're going to go into some of these par-4s with 4-iron, 5-iron. With some of the holes playing downwind, it's going to be very tricky. As you said, the bunkers, you just need to stay out of them the whole week, whether it's a fairway bunker or whether it's the greenside bunker. And not good news if you're going to start missing tee shots and hitting it in those fairway traps or even missing second shots into those bunkers.
I think it's a tough golf course, I think it's a good golf course. And with a 10- or 15-mile-an-hour wind, I think the golf course is going to play very tough.

Q. I'm slightly intrigued about the work you're doing back at the house, the visualisation techniques. Is this meditation or have you got a computer game with graphics?
IAN POULTER: It's all my lines in the yardage book. Yardage books nowadays have got like a photograph on them of the actual -- from the tee box, so it's got carries, and obviously you can work out the wind direction from there, as well.
I've only played it with a southerly wind right now. I haven't played anything different. I think guys were here last week and they had the opposite wind. So the golf course is and can play very, very different.
So it's just about trying to work out where to hit tee shots, 2-irons, if you're going to hit 2-iron or driver. And if it's on some of the par-4s that I've seen right now, I want to be short of these bunkers, and that for me is a 2- or 3-iron off of a lot of these tees. If it's downwind, the golf course completely changes; you might be able to hit driver and take on the bunkers and fly them by 10, 20 yards, and then those holes play totally different.

Q. You mentioned, speaking about pacing yourself during the week. Is that one of the things you've learned in majors that it doesn't necessarily take four spectacular rounds to win, sometimes ordinary golf during the week might be enough?
IAN POULTER: Sure. I wouldn't say I played spectacular on Thursday, Friday, Saturday last year. I would say that I just sort of found myself in a position where I was there. I was hanging about. I was in a position where with good golf Sunday I could put myself into contention, and that's what I did.
I think we've all seen in the past guys can hang about and be in the top 25 and 30 and then strike Saturday afternoon and obviously Sunday. So it's just not going out there firing at pins on a Thursday and Friday and taking yourself out of the golf tournament. I think you just have to be sensible in these tournaments and try and slow play your way in.

Q. Tiger wasn't here last year; how much does his presence this year affect other players' thinking or his presence affect the championship?
IAN POULTER: He's No. 1 in the world; I think it's always good to have No. 1, Tiger Woods, in any golf tournament. So there will be an extra factor for having him in this week. He's the man to beat.
Everybody looks upon him, his win ratio is so strong, and he will be a factor on Sunday. So you know you're going to have to bring your best game to win the golf tournament.

Q. Might your thinking of playing short of the bunkers be colored a little bit by the fact there are several greens where the green is a bowl and it will carry the ball in towards the flag so you've got a better chance with a longer iron?
IAN POULTER: You have on a couple of holes. But when it's downwind, certainly yesterday on the front nine we pitched the ball on the front of the green; even with the bowl shape of the back of some of these greens, it went straight through the greens into the long rough. There was a number of holes that we were trying to land the ball 15, 20 yards short of the green to have the ball finish middle of that green.
So there are a couple of par-4s which we've looked at which we might have to just take the bunkers on, hit driver, because it opens the whole green up. Where they've positioned the bunkers on certain greens, you really are disadvantaged if you're going in from 200 yards downwind.

Q. Will that make a difference on pin placements?
IAN POULTER: Yes and no. I mean I think more and more to the fact that you just want to be able to have a couple of birdie chances out there, so you're just going to have to try to pick your holes, when it is downwind where you do want to take driver and try to be a little more aggressive to, yeah, I guess pin positions, where you feel you can make birdie.

Q. You mentioned Tiger is the man to beat. Who do you think is the No. 2 player right now? Phil is not here; Harrington is trying to keep it on planet earth; Sergio is not doing much memorable lately. Just kind of rifling through my head here, looking at the world top 10. Who do you like? If you were walking into Ladbrokes and were trying to find two, three other guys, who do you think would be the smart bets?
IAN POULTER: I played with Westwood last week, and he wasn't feeling 100 percent on Thursday, he didn't sleep Wednesday night at all, he was feeling under the weather and then he come out the following day, and seriously could have shot 58, 59. So I would say Lee, if he's in that kind of form and is feeling good, then I think Lee could certainly have a big week.

Q. The putts you holed on the home green last year, was that the moment you became surely convinced you could win whatever this event is called, or was there a different day?
IAN POULTER: Thanks for reminding me. I think it was your article (laughter). I think, yeah, I think it definitely helped to know -- to put myself in that position with nine holes to play, I had a chance to win The Open Championship. And it's nice to say you can put yourself in position.
And I guess, yeah, to back that up I did that last year. So, yeah, it's a huge confidence boost. I'm always a confident player, but for sure to be in that position and to actually get close but not close enough, yes, it's a huge confidence boost, and yes, I do believe I can go one step further. We'll have to see come Sunday night.

Q. Considering your performance last year and your start to this year, does it come as a surprise that oddsmakers have Rory as third favorite in only his fourth major championship and somebody like you with more experience, why are you not third or fourth favorite? Is it putting unrealistic pressure on him this week?
IAN POULTER: I was very impressed with him on Thursday last week. I think I said to Darren last week, I could see him having a big week this week. I didn't see any part of his game that had any weakness on Thursday. He didn't play quite as well on Friday, but Thursday was my first experience of playing with him. He hit it long; he hit it straight; he controlled his irons very well; he putted well; he had a good short game.
So I think it wouldn't surprise me to see Rory have a very big week this week. If he doesn't, he's going to have plenty of opportunity. He's so young, he's going to learn a lot of different shots and he's going to learn about himself, putting himself in this position which he's going to do an awful lot over the next 20, 30 years.

Q. Have your wardrobe sorted out this week?
ALI BUCHAN: Thanks very much for joining us.

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